In praise of Twitter threads (looking forward to the Twitter notes)

In times that seem dominated by video – TikTok, TikTok, TikTok… – it is surprising to see how much people write.

And, it is reassuring to see how media and communication writing (remember the motto “Writing is thinking”?) is evolving for the better after the hangover of click-baiting headlines and emoji thrown around like parsley.

Newsletters are giving many readers back the pleasure of reading without the distractions of banners and the like: well structured and often written in a personal and empathetic way. In many cases, the best divulgation finds its place in newsletters, not online editorials:

Timothy Snyder´s newsletter: Thinking About

Substack is helping to grow an ecosystem of authors who offer readers access to otherwise absent niche topics:

Axios has made its writing method – ‘Smart Brevity’, a publishing trademark and now also a manual – the hallmark of its product innovation. Since 2021, Smart Brevity has also been a method that Axios teaches corporations to improve their internal communications: emails, bulletins, and intranets.

Twitter threads as writing best practice models.

The evolution I am most passionate about is that of writing on Twitter. Why? Because the platform, used and extended by its users, has been able to combine conciseness and structure, the ability to convey even complex information and readability.

The launch of Twitter threads in 2017 was a reactive product evolution: users wrote chained tweets, which were difficult to read without something linking them. That seemingly trivial thread opened the door to science communicators, political think tanks, economists and technology experts.

And after three years of living in complexity, Twitter threads have helped many of us to inform, understand and reflect. Much dissemination happens thanks to non-professional users.

Take the case of the Ukraine war: we found on Twitter curated summaries of Slovak, Lithuanian, Polish, and Czech journalism made by people living in other European countries, which helped us to see this war through the eyes of others.

And the pandemic? The scientific Twitter thread had become a genre in itself before the pandemic, including advice from scientists to other researchers on how to structure the summary of a paper using threads. Twitter Threads from Universities and Reserch centers have helped to sort out lots of information badly reported by mainstream media.

Structure, conciseness, clarity of argument and depth: that is still the biggest challenge for many of us who have to write by profession – strategies, presentations, offers, and analyses -. I struggle every time I tackle a new document. But when I feel like I am going off the path, I go to Twitter: I always find exemplary threads and a method to inspire me.

Now that the platform has started alfa-experimenting with Notes (aka Twitter Articles), I wonder if conciseness and depth combination would get lost.

I hope that the Notes UX designers will be able to create an environment that forces us to write better and with a method.

If it succeeds, Twitter would claim the lead in modern Peer-to-Peer written communication. If it failed, we would have another micro-blogging platform: one like any other.

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Cover Photo by Vishal Banik on Unsplash